On the occasion of the opening of the new manufacturing facility in January 2016 we met Dr. Roland Gauder, mastermind and president of “Gauder Akustik” to talk with him about his loudspeakers, the company philosophy and his latest inventions.

“Mr. Gauder, how did you come to building loudspeakers?”

“Oh, it all started when I was still a little child. My family was dedictaed to music and this influence hit me. And then when I was in university studying physics this longing for discovering unknown things and getting insight into physical relationships brought music and physics together. And so after many years of trial and error I asked myself:”Wouldn’t it be possible to create totally improved loudspeakers if there would be a theory which includes all basic acoustical effects?”. And so in 1990 I set out for doing this.”

What’s the most important thing for a loudspeaker?

Besides many questions of details there are 3 basic parameters heading the list: the impulse response of a loudspeaker, the wide dispersion and the frequency overlap at the frequency crossover points which lead to errors in phase.

And what’s your remedy to cure these errors?

Ultra-lightweight diaphragms made of cermics or diamond are the only ones which can follow the music impulses without faults. We avoid horn cones to avoid hard directivity and our ultra-steep , symmetrical frequency crossovers reduce the overlap of the drivers to the absolute minimum. And these crossovers have an extremely smooth phase response.

Concerning this I would like to go a bit more into detail. But let me first ask you something general: What actually is the most important thing concerning the HiFi hobby?

All HiFi equipment was designed to reproduce music, as a means to an end. For us manufacturers this still takes the centre of our efforts but for many end users HiFi itself has become independent of its original goal. For them improving the whole HiFi system is in focus to get closer to the ideal. For them the way is the goal and not to come to an end of this search. This, too, is fascinating but for me listening to music is still the most important thing.

Well, the enthusiasm for HiFi has gone down within recent years especially regarding the interest in it of the youth. How could we stop or turn back this trend?

That’s easy: we would need two groundbreaking bands like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones! Or in general: We need such a music explosion like when it all started in England at the beginning of the sixties. England was not very much known for a big musician or composer tradition compared to Italy, Germany, Austria, France or Russia. But then over night there were bands coming out of the middle of nowhere revolutionizing modern music in a way that no stone stayed unturned! Over night the youth has its own Beat which changes the attitude to life totally provoking the elder persons, leaving them with shaking heads and giving a new identity to the juveniles. This all happened driven by only music, imagine! When we were young we had to defend our Beat Music against our parents. The youth today doesn’t need that anymore besides they rap. But nowadays there are oh so many leisure activities! But who knows maybe there are new “Beatles” ahead……

Let’s go back to your products: could you please tell us where the art lies in loudspeaker building?

A loudspeaker is something very complex as it transforms electrical energy into mechanical movement thus producing acoustical pressure differences by the complex acoustical impedance which can be deduced by our human ear. This means a twofold transformation which is afflicted with non-linearities. So you need to know a lot about electro technique, mechanics and acoustics. Additionally you need knowledge about vibration behaviour of various materials and vibration and statics of cabinets. You need all this and more to be competitive today. For me I can say that there is additional this love to mathematics which offers new ways to loudspeaker theory and calculations.

Yes, and there still is this second leg you need: the love to music to be able to judge your creations. I am still thinking that a music-hating scientist can never create a good-sounding loudspeaker. He would create a music reproduction machine which actually makes no mistakes but does not touch your soul. But exactly this is it about music: you have to get goose bumps right away from the first tone you hear. This longing for non-stop listening to music, that’s what it takes. Only then you can say you have created something really good!

Why do you use such extremely steep frequency croosover filters?

That’s easy: because the advantages in sound are overwhelming. You can prove it mathematically and you can also easily hear it!

Don’t these filters have too big phase shifts?

Yes, of course, thanks god! Indeed this is how passive crossovers work. If there would be no phase shift, energy would be dissipated!

This you have to explain me in detail, please!

Well, inductors and capacitors have no real resistance which converts electrical energy into heat but an imaginary one which blocks low or high frequencies without dissipating energy. That’s what I am talking about often as it shows the difference between real and imaginary numbers. What exactly are imaginary numbers? Which meaning do they have?
Well and with AC current we have the perfect example for imaginary numbers. Imaginary numbers have a phase shift of 90° relative to real numbers and so they cannot dissipate or annihilate energy. Thus phase shift is nothing bad but very helpful for loudspeakers.
Of course there are some amplifiers which suffer from capacitive phase shift as the impedance is decreasing with increasing frequency and so the current increases by 6 dB per octave. This is just a problem for the amp and nowadays we have amps which are so powerful that they can handle this without any problem.

Nevertheless, there are supporters for the 6-dB-crossovers!

Well, as a scientist I can only shake my head and wonder why! Some years ago I held a talk on the technology stage at the HighEnd show in Munich which is purely mathematical and no promotion at all. I showed on a purely scientific basis that 6-dB-filters driving a tweeter result in a Tchebysheff-filters with bad ringing and slow impulse response or in a very low crossover frequency which must be lower than the resonance frequency. For example if you have a tweeter with a resonance frequency of 1000 Hz which is a typical value then you must choose the crossover point at 707 Hz to get a fast, non-ringing filter of Butterworth-characteristics. But this would lead to an immediate destruction of the voice-coil as this brings far too much energy to the tweeter. And so 6-dB-filters are real nonsense in loudspeaker building. As I always say: if you know more you have to believe less!

Besides the unbelievably steep filters you have another specialty asd you build up the crossovers in a symmetrical way. Why?

If you tell a physicist that you build up your crossovers in a symmetrical way he will immediately believe that this is the better way. Physicists always strive for symmetry. Actually it tooks a while till we found out the true secrets that lie behind this technology. We started doing it by extensive listening tests as measuring frequency response does not help you here. The benefit is due to the interaction between the amp and the loudspeaker. Driving a symmetrical loudspeaker is much easier for the amp which is clearly audible!

Why do you use the ceramic drivers from Accuton. Don’t they sound harsh or sharp?

As I mentioned the impulse response is the ultimate criterion for a loudspeaker. Thus we need light and stiff materials which are able to follow these incredible accelerations without deformations or distortion. Ceramics and diamond is ideal for such a purpose. Diamond has additional advantages but most important is the undistorted reproduction of the music.
As a long-time employee and head of the R&D department of Isophon I grew up with coated and uncoated paper diaphragms. Moreover, we used them till the end of 2013. Their imperfections in impulse response always caused us big problems for mids and highs. Due to these imperfections we always only used a 4”-midrange and not 7”-midrange as we now do with ceramic drivers. Ceramic and diamond drivers do not sound sharp inherently but by imperfect suppressing of their 7 kHz resonance which hard materials always show.

So that’s the reason why you use steep filters?

Exactly! But there is more: for example the overlap of the drivers.

Could you please explain this in more detail?

Of course. Multiple-way loudspeakers need frequency crossovers which direct the frequencies to their drivers by exactly this blocking or letting pass of inductors and capacitors. But as filters do not work with an infinitely steep blocking or passing the two neighboured drivers have a big frequency overlap that means a wide frequency range where these drivers both work with comparably energy emitted but are geometrically different and located at distant places. Thus the same frequency comes to the ear double with one signal delayed causing a big smearing of impulses. And that is exactly what we want to avoid! I think it is evident to anyone that sound emission from two different and geometrically separated drivers cannot be benefitial or exact.

So let’s come to something practical. Why do you still manufacture in Germany?

Oh, that sounds like it is a big stupidity…..

Well, many of your competitors manufacture in Far East….

Yes, of course, that’s true but as our customers are very sophisticated and claim the highest quality possible, I cannot imagine doing this. Our loudspeakers are too complicated to let them manufacture anywhere. Our customers trust our quality promises. That’s the reason why all our loudspeakers get a manufacturing certificate. And each speakers is also checked by a listening test before it is shipped out!

An Arcona 40, too?

Certainly! Even our smallest loudspeaker gets the full package!

And do the Arcona speakers work with the same sophisticated technology as the more expensive ones?

Yes of course! Doesn’t matter which loudspeaker you buy from us you will get a real Gauder! With all details and properties of the big Berlinas!

So then your expenisve models are totally upspaced…..?

The contrary is true! Our competitors offer their loudspeakers with the diamond drivers for a multiple price than we do! Our big Berlinas exist because I want to show what is possible. The big diamond midrange drivers are horribly expensive even for us but also exceptionally good.
To show the whole potential of the diamond drivers we designed our Berlina RC 9 and RC 11 as 4-way-speakers. From 1 KHz up only diamond! And so they need an appropriate bass to go with. That’s why both are so sophisticatedly built.
Moreover, the price of a loudspeaker cannot be judged explicitely but by the sound they create. It’s not a wonder they we lead the ranking list of both “Audio” and “Stereoplay” Germany’s to magazines! That has never happened before.

How do you rate the meaning of room acoustics?

Extremely high! It’s no good to demonstrate the best HiFi system in the world in an acoustically terrible room. I would rather play a smaller system in an acoustically well-damped room. That’s why we test and rate our loudspeakers in different existing real rooms before we introduce them. Sometimes this leads to some changes but then we know that our loudspeakers sound in “normal” living-rooms.

As you estimate the influence of room acoustics that high then does it make sense to make a music demonstration in such inappropriate rooms like the showrooms in Munich?

You got me! On the one hand we want to entertain and inspire the visitors of the HighEnd show in Munich, on the other hand this is hardly possible especially as we have to cover an area for 30 listeners! Honestly said, you cannot judge a speaker in Munich because only few people have a living-room of 105 sqm, 4 m high ceiling and vibrating walls!

So better listen to a speaker at a dealer shop?

Absolutely! There the conditions are so much better. Or even better: listen to it in your own living-room! There you can easily make up your mind.

What do you think about the new streaming services and download portals?

Wonderful! I wish I could have this years ago when I was young and sitting next to my old tape recorder waiting for this one song to conserve it on the tape. Today this is so much better and in fantastic quality. There are even HiRes downloads available. And storage space has become so cheap that nobody needs MP3-compression anymore. Lossless storage is the future!

So why do you still make the demos with LP records?

Because it still sounds fantastic has its own charm. It’s just pure joy! I have grown up with vinyl and so I still celebrate this procedure even though it’s more elaborate than digital sources.

Where is the market marching to, are there revolutions for loudspeaker building in sight?

It would be great if we would know what buyers like or not. At last it’s the customer who decides what’s good or bad and not the designer. That’s why I always say: “Give the people what they want”. But very often I had success with products originally designed for myself.
Considering physics and science I am really able to predict the future: the dynamical multi-way loudspeaker as we know it will rule the market for a long, long time in future! There is no other physical principle in sight which has a more effective way to produce sound than we have it now. And this will be true also in future. Otherwise we would have discovered this sound producing principle already. And in future, too, we need volume to produce bass. And in future, too, there will be no diaphragm which can produce bass, mids and highs in the same quality on a high level. And so our loudspeakers will look pretty much the same in twenty years as they do now!